The King Is Alive
Desert rats. Paul and Gina (Walker and Leigh) contemplate their fate.
Dogme No 4
dir Kristian Levring
scr Anders Thomas Jensen, Kristian Levring
with Janet McTeer, Bruce Davison, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Bradley, David Calder, Chris Walker, Lia Williams, Peter Kubheka, Vusi Kunene, Romane Bohringer, Brion James, Miles Anderson
release US & UK 11.May.01
01/Denmark 1h40
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
DOGME 95 Finally, the fourth of the original Dogme 95 "vow of chastity" signatory directors releases his effort, a mixed bag that shines technically and conceptually, but doesn't quite work. We're in the Namibian desert with a busload of tourists who have been rerouted overland for some reason. The driver (Kunene) doesn't exactly instil confidence in his 10 passengers, and indeed they get horribly lost, the bus breaks down and they're trapped in an abandoned mining town that's slowly filling up with sand. The one local resident (Kubheka) isn't much help either. So the most adventurous (Anderson) goes for help, while another (Bradley), a former actor, suggests they put on Shakespeare's King Lear to kill the time. Soon the play is blurring the lines of relationships that were strained long before this crisis.

It's kind of an improv Survivor, complete with nightly bonfire, as teamwork gives way to jealousies, suspicions and fear. Some of this is fascinating--Leigh gives her least mannered performance in years as a brash Yank; Davison and McTeer are terrific as a married couple brimming with bitterness; Calder, Walker and Williams are a fascinatingly strained father/son/daughter-in-law. While other characters are barely there--Bohringer's French bookworm; James' frail Lear-like businessman. But the real problem is the way the story tries so hard to incorporate Shakespearean themes. This simply doesn't work, leaving the film both forced and pointless. And despite astonishing camera work and editing, it just gets duller and duller even as the story is supposedly heating up. This is a shame because the acting does frequently get beneath the script's wafer-thin story. But instead of coming together cleverly in the end, it simply falls to bits.
adult themes and situations, language cert 15 4.May.01

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DOGME 95Purpose: To counter certain tendencies in film today--to purge film so that once again the inner lives of the characters justify the plot. Dogme 95 opposes the auteur concept, make-up, illusions and dramatic predictability.

  1. All shooting must be done on location, with all props found on site.
  2. Sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa (including music).
  3. The camera must be hand-held.
  4. The film must be in colour, with no special lighting.
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action such as murders, weapons, etc.
  7. The film must take place here and now.
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35mm.
  10. The director must not be credited (there is no auteur).
Signed by four Danish directors: Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring and Soren Kragh Jacobsen.
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall